What a refreshingly unusual protagonist.
Dr Cora Lael has a particular skill – or occasionally curse – that impacts her life in astonishing ways so that The Secret Voices is very definitely not the usual police procedural thriller.
As this is the first book in a new series, it takes a while for Cora really to be involved. This gives the reader a chance to meet other characters thoroughly first.
Initially, I had to concentrate until I got to know them but by the time I’d reached the end of The Secret Voices I felt I’d encountered a cast of warm, believable people about whom I’m hoping to hear a great deal more.
Messy investigations, sensitive insights
I found the police politics, hierarchy and banter very engaging as I became acquainted with Rob Minshull et al.
MJ White presents very effectively the way police investigations are messy and complicated, making for a very entertaining
read. Excellent thriller aside, what works exceptionally well is the human element underpinning the story.
MJ White also writes romantic fiction as Miranda Dickinson. Perhaps because of this, she seems to have a sensitive insight into the impact of Hannah’s disappearance, especially on Joel Anderson, Rob and Cora, as history appears to repeat itself.
Indeed, the details of the investigation into Hannah’s disappearance are fascinating and convincing. Add in the fact that the Suffolk investigating team previously failed to find a child murderer in the same area some seven years previously.
Making readers question their assumptions
The reader feels the palpable stress in the team, which draws them in to the story. Towards the end of The Secret Voices I found my pulse quickening as the tension mounted further.
The plot writhes along with plenty of red herrings to distract the reader. Not only do they reveal the attitudes of those in MJ White’s story, but cleverly cause the reader to question their own assumptions.
The Secret Voices is skilfully constructed as Hannah’s first person account slots in to the narrative in a way that makes the reader urge on the police investigation.
This has the effect of raising the reader’s heart rate because it isn’t clear if the team will uncover what the reader already knows through Hannah.
I had some concerns that highly successful romantic fiction writer Miranda Dickinson had turned to crime as MJ White. I needn’t have worried. The Secret Voices is a really successful and satisfying book.